ESP LTD F-415M Review – A Stunning Bass Built for Metal

4.5 out of 5 stars

Japanese manufacturer ESP is one of the most recognizable names in the metal and hard rock guitar community. The F-415M, a 5-string bass manufactured by their subsidiary LTD, is a stylish model created with heavier players in mind. Featuring some premium touches, and with a price tag under $1,000, this bass has a lot of good features. Let’s check out what makes this one of the best 5-string basses available for metal and rock players today.

Body & Neck

With the F-415M, ESP have created a beast of a bass guitar. The body is made of solid mahogany, with a neck-through construction to increase sustain and tonal clarity. The flamed maple top veneer and transparent black finish make this one of the most gorgeous basses around.

In the dark it looks like a traditional black finish, but under more direct light the clear lacquer accents the natural grain of the maple veneer and reflects different shades of color across the instrument. This thing is sure to turn heads whenever you take it out!

The five-piece maple and jatoba neck features a sleek U shape for faster and more comfortable playing. A 24-fret pau ferro fingerboard with XJ-size frets (noticeably larger than traditional medium or jumbo frets) and simple dot inlays tops everything off.

Sharp horn cutaways accent the imposing styling and provide easy access all the way up the fretboard – just make sure you don’t poke yourself! The one downside of the mahogany and maple combination is its weight. While it’s not crushing, at over 9.6lbs this bass is seriously heavy.

Hardware

Like any bona fide metal bass, the F-415M sports active pickups – in this case, a pair of EMG 40DC active humbuckers. These ceramic bar style magnets provide a wide tonal range and sleek, blacked-out appeal.

To tune them to fit your perfect sound, this bass is equipped with standard volume and tone balance knobs, along with ESP 3-band EQ controls. Behind them sits a stock LTD BB-605 bridge. The headstock houses a molded plastic nut for the included D’Addario XL strings, along with a set of Grover tuners to keep your tuning and intonation stable.

It’s important to note that, even though we are well out of the entry-level market, this bass might need some setup out of the box. Many buyers reported slight issues with fret buzz and stability before making minor adjustments.

Sound

The F-415M’s active EMG humbuckers certainly make their presence felt. The pickups are exceptionally high output, leading to punchy, heavy tones when both clean and distorted. The range is tipped slightly towards the low end, producing a throaty growl when playing across most of the lower register. Trebles are clear, but still darker than many more balanced basses.

The biting attack and grit present here mean this axe has no problem cutting through any mix, whether live or in the studio. While the F-415M is clearly tailored to metal and hard rock – the pickups may be too in-your-face for more mellow genres like jazz or pop, even when cleaned up – with slight EQ adjustments it could work for blues and more classic rock as well. Its aggressive, driving tone could fit perfectly into songs like Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused.’

Conclusion

For metal and hard rock bassists, the ESP LTD F-415M has the perfect tonal package, and some of the best looks around to boot. The active pickups and mahogany body combine to create some deliciously dark and biting tones while retaining a surprising range. While it’s not the most versatile instrument, and a bit of a setup is necessary, this is a strong choice for any player looking for a bass optimized for a grittier, heavier sound.

For more info about the ESP LTD F-415M, click here.
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